History of Borussia Dortmund
Foundation and early years
The club was founded on 19 December 1909 by a group of young men unhappy with the Catholic church-sponsored Trinity Youth, where they played football under the stern and unsympathetic eye of the local parish priest. Father Dewald was blocked at the door when he tried to break up the organizing meeting being held in a room of the local pub, Zum Wildschütz. The founders were Franz and Paul Braun, Henry Cleve, Hans Debest, Paul Dziendzielle, Franz, Julius and Wilhelm Jacobi, Hans Kahn, Gustav Müller, Franz Risse, Fritz Schulte, Hans Siebold, August Tönnesmann, Heinrich and Robert Unger, Fritz Weber and Franz Wendt. The name Borussia is Latin for Prussia but was taken from Borussia beer from the nearby Borussia brewery in Dortmund. The team began playing in blue and white striped shirts with a red sash, and black shorts. In 1913, they donned the black and yellow stripes so familiar today.
Over the next decades the club enjoyed only modest success playing in local leagues. They had a brush with bankruptcy in 1929 when an attempt to boost the club’s fortunes by signing some paid professional footballers failed miserably and left the team deep in debt. They survived only through the generosity of a local supporter who covered the team’s shortfall out of his own pocket.
The 1930s saw the rise of the Third Reich, which restructured sports and football organizations throughout the nation to suit the regime’s goals. Borussia’s president was replaced when he refused to join the Nazi Party, and a couple of members who surreptitiously used the club’s offices to produce anti-Nazi pamphlets were executed in the last days of the war. The club did have greater success in the newly established Gauliga Westfalen, but would have to wait until after World War II to make a breakthrough. It was during this time that Borussia developed its intense rivalry with Schalke 04 of suburban Gelsenkirchen, the most successful side of the era (see Revierderby). Like every other organisation in Germany, Borussia was dissolved by the Allied occupation authorities after the war in an attempt to distance the country’s institutions from its so-recent Nazi past. There was a short-lived attempt to merge the club with two others – Werksportgemeinschaft Hoesch and Freier Sportverein 98 – as Sportgemeinschaft Borussia von 1898, but it was as Ballspiel-Verein Borussia (BVB) that they made their first appearance in the national league final in 1949, where they lost 2–3 to VfR Mannheim.
First national titles
Between 1946 and 1963, Borussia featured in the Oberliga West, a first division league which dominated German football through the late 1950s. In 1949, Borussia reached the final in Stuttgart against VfR Mannheim, which they lost 2–3 after extra time. The club claimed its first national title in 1956 with a 4–2 win against Karlsruher SC. One year later, Borussia defeated Hamburger SV 4–1 to win their second national title. After this coup, the three Alfredos (Alfred Preißler, Alfred Kelbassa and Alfred Niepieklo) were legends in Dortmund. In 1963, Borussia won the last edition of the German Football Championship (before the introduction of the new Bundesliga) to secure their third national title.
Entry to the Bundesliga
In 1962, the DFB met in Dortmund and voted to finally establish a professional football league in Germany, to begin play in August 1963 as the Bundesliga. Borussia Dortmund earned its place among the first sixteen clubs to play in the new league by winning the last pre-Bundesliga national championship. Runners-up 1. FC Köln also earned an automatic berth. It was Dortmund’s Friedhelm Konietzka who scored the first-ever Bundesliga goal barely a minute into the match, which they would eventually lose 2–3 to Werder Bremen.
In 1965, Dortmund captured its first DFB-Pokal. In 1966, Dortmund won the European Cup Winners’ Cup 2–1 against Liverpool in extra time, with the goals coming from Sigfried Held and Reinhard Libuda. In the same year, however, the team surrendered a commanding position atop the Bundesliga by losing four of their last five league games and finishing second, three points behind champions 1860 München. Ironically, much of 1860 München’s success came on the strength of the play of Konietzka, recently transferred from Dortmund.
The 1970s were characterized by financial problems, relegation from the Bundesliga in 1972, and the opening of the Westfalenstadion, named after its home region Westphalia in 1974. The club earned its return to Bundesliga in 1976.
Dortmund continued to suffer from financial problems through the 1980s. BVB narrowly avoided being relegated again in 1986 by winning a third decisive playoff game against Fortuna Köln after finishing the regular season in 16th place.
Dortmund did not enjoy any significant success again until a 4–1 DFB-Pokal win in 1989 against Werder Bremen. It was Horst Köppel’s first trophy as a manager. Dortmund then won the 1989 DFL-Supercup 4–3 against rivals Bayern Munich.
Golden age – the 1990s
After a tenth-place finish in the Bundesliga in 1991, manager Horst Köppel was let go and manager Ottmar Hitzfeld was hired.
In 1992, Hitzfeld led Borussia Dortmund to a second-place finish in the Bundesliga and would have won the title had VfB Stuttgart not won their last game to become champions instead.
Along with a fourth-place finish in the Bundesliga, Dortmund made it to the 1993 UEFA Cup final, which they lost 6–1 on aggregate to Juventus. In spite of this result, Borussia walked away with DM25 million under the prize money pool system in place at the time for German sides participating in the Cup. Cash flush, Dortmund was able to sign players who later brought them numerous honours in the 1990s.
Under the captaincy of 1996 European Footballer of the Year Matthias Sammer, Borussia Dortmund won back-to-back Bundesliga titles in 1995 and 1996. Dortmund also won the DFL-Supercup against Mönchengladbach in 1995 and 1. FC Kaiserslautern in 1996.
In 1996–97 the team reached its first European Cup final. In a memorable 1997 UEFA Champions League Final at the Olympiastadion in Munich, Dortmund faced the holders Juventus. Karl-Heinz Riedle put Dortmund ahead, shooting under goalkeeper Angelo Peruzzi from a cross by Paul Lambert. Riedle then made it two with a bullet header from a corner kick. In the second half, Alessandro Del Piero pulled one back for Juventus with a back heel. Then 20-year-old substitute and local boy Lars Ricken latched onto a through pass by Andreas Möller. Only 16 seconds after coming on to the pitch, Ricken chipped Peruzzi in the Juventus goal from over 20 yards out with his first touch of the ball. With Zinedine Zidane unable to make an impression for Juventus against the close marking of Lambert, Dortmund lifted the trophy with a 3–1 victory.
Dortmund then went on to beat Brazilian club Cruzeiro 2–0 in the 1997 Intercontinental Cup Final to become world club champions. Borussia Dortmund were the second German club to win the Intercontinental Cup, after Bayern Munich in 1976.
As defending champions Dortmund reached the Champions League semi-final in 1998. The team was missing key players from the start of the season when they played Real Madrid in the ’98 semi. Sammer’s career was cut short by injury and only played three first team games after the Champions League win. Lambert had left in November to return to play in Scotland. Möller missed the first leg as did Kohler who missed both games in the tie. Real deservedly won the first leg 2–0 at home. Dortmund played better in the second leg but failed to take their chances. Dortmund went out 2–0 on aggregate.
21st century and Borussia “goes public”
At the turn of the millennium, Borussia Dortmund became the first—and so far the only—publicly traded club on the German stock market.
In 2002, Borussia Dortmund won their third Bundesliga title. Dortmund had a remarkable run at the end of the season to overtake Bayer Leverkusen, securing the title on the final day. Manager Matthias Sammer became the first person in Borussia Dortmund history to win the Bundesliga as both a player and manager. In the same season, Borussia lost the final of the 2001–02 UEFA Cup to Dutch side Feyenoord.
Dortmund’s fortunes then steadily declined for a number of years. Poor financial management led to a heavy debt load and the sale of their Westfalenstadion grounds. The situation was compounded by failure to advance in the 2003–04 UEFA Champions League, when the team was eliminated on penalties in the qualifying rounds by Club Brugge. In 2003, Bayern Munich loaned €2 million to Dortmund for several months to pay their payroll. Borussia was again driven to the brink of bankruptcy in 2005, the original €11 value of its shares having plummeted by over 80% on the Frankfurter Wertpapierbörse (Frankfurt Stock Exchange). The response to the crisis included a 20% pay cut for all players.
In 2006, in order to reduce debt, the Westfalenstadion was renamed “Signal Iduna Park” after a local insurance company. The naming rights agreement ran until 2016. The stadium is currently the largest football stadium in Germany with a capacity of 80,720 spectators, and hosted several matches in the 2006 World Cup, including a semi-final. Borussia Dortmund enjoys the highest average attendance of any football club in Europe, at 80,478 per match (2010–11).
Dortmund suffered a miserable start to the 2005–06 season, but rallied to finish seventh. The club failed to gain a place in the UEFA Cup via the Fair Play draw. The club’s management recently indicated that the club again showed a profit; this was largely related to the sale of David Odonkor to Real Betis and Tomáš Rosický to Arsenal.
In the 2006–07 season, Dortmund unexpectedly faced serious relegation trouble for the first time in years. Dortmund went through three coaches and appointed Thomas Doll on 13 March 2007 after dropping to just one point above the relegation zone. Christoph Metzelder also left Borussia Dortmund on a free transfer.
In the 2007–08 season, Dortmund lost to many smaller Bundesliga clubs. Despite finishing 13th in the Bundesliga table, Dortmund reached the DFB-Pokal Final against Bayern Munich, where they lost 2–1 in extra time. The final appearance qualified Dortmund for the UEFA Cup because Bayern already qualified for the Champions League. Thomas Doll resigned on 19 May 2008 and was replaced by Jürgen Klopp.
Return to prominence
In the 2009–10 season, Klopp’s Dortmund improved on the season before to finish fifth in the Bundesliga to qualify for the UEFA Europa League. The team missed an opportunity to qualify for the Champions League by failing to beat eighth-place VfL Wolfsburg and 14th-place SC Freiburg in the final two matches of the campaign.
Entering the 2010–11 season, Dortmund fielded a young and vibrant roster. On 4 December 2010, Borussia became Herbstmeister (“Autumn Champion”), an unofficial accolade going to the league leader at the winter break. They did this three matches before the break, sharing the record for having achieved this earliest with Eintracht Frankfurt (1993–94) and 1. FC Kaiserslautern (1997–98). On 30 April 2011, the club beat 1. FC Nürnberg 2–0 at home, while second-place Bayer Leverkusen lost, leaving Dortmund eight points clear with two games to play. This championship equaled the seven national titles held by rivals Schalke 04, and guaranteed a spot in the 2011–12 Champions League group stages.
One year later, Dortmund made a successful defense of its Bundesliga title with a win over Borussia Mönchengladbach, again on the 32nd match day. By the 34th and final match day, Dortmund set a new record with the most points—81—ever gained by a club in one Bundesliga season. This was surpassed the following season by Bayern Munich’s 91 points. The club’s eighth championship places it third in total national titles, and players will now wear two stars over their uniform crest in recognition of the team’s five Bundesliga titles. Notable names from the winning roster include Lucas Barrios, Mario Götze, Neven Subotić, Mats Hummels, Robert Lewandowski, Shinji Kagawa, Łukasz Piszczek, Jakub Błaszczykowski, Kevin Großkreutz, Ivan Perišić and İlkay Gündoğan. The club capped its successful 2011–12 season by winning the double for the first time by beating Bayern 5–2 in the final of the DFB-Pokal. Borussia Dortmund are one of four German clubs to win the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal double, along with Bayern Munich, 1. FC Köln and Werder Bremen. The club was voted Team of the Year 2011 at the annual Sportler des Jahres (German Sports Personality of the Year) awards.
Borussia Dortmund ended the 2012–13 season in second place in the Bundesliga. Dortmund played in their second UEFA Champions League Final against Bayern Munich in the first ever all-German club final at Wembley Stadium on 25 May 2013, which they lost 2–1.
In the 2013–14 season, Borussia Dortmund won the 2013 DFL-Supercup 4–2 against rivals Bayern Munich. The 2013–14 season started with a five-game winning streak for Dortmund, their best start to a season. Despite such a promising start, however, their season was hampered by injuries to several key players, seeing them stoop as low as fourth place in the table, and with a depleted squad could go only as far as the quarter-finals of the Champions League, losing 3–2 on aggregate to Real Madrid. Nevertheless, Dortmund managed to end their season on a high note by finishing second in the Bundesliga and reaching the 2014 DFB-Pokal Final, losing 0–2 to Bayern in extra time. They then began their 2014–15 season by defeating Bayern in the 2014 DFL-Supercup 2–0. However, this victory would not be enough to inspire the squad to a solid performance at the start of the ensuing season, with Dortmund recording various results such as a 0–1 loss to Hamburger SV and two 2–2 draws against VfB Stuttgart and Bundesliga newcomers Paderborn 07. During the winter, Dortmund fell to the bottom of the table on multiple occasions, but managed to escape the relegation zone after four consecutive wins in February. On 15 April 2015, Jürgen Klopp announced that after seven years, he would be leaving Dortmund. Four days later, Dortmund announced that Thomas Tuchel would replace Klopp at the end of the season. Klopp’s final season, however, ended on high note, rising and finishing seventh after facing relegation, gaining a DFB-Pokal final with VfL Wolfsburg and qualifying for the 2015–16 Europa League.
In the 2015–16 season, Dortmund started off on a high, winning 4–0 against Borussia Mönchengladbach on the opening day, followed by five-straight wins which took them to the top of the Bundesliga. After the eighth matchday, they were surpassed by Bayern Munich following an unlucky draw with 1899 Hoffenheim. Dortmund kept their performances up, winning 24 out of 34 league games and becoming the best Bundesliga runner-up team of all time. In the Europa League, they advanced to the quarter-finals, getting knocked out by a Jürgen Klopp-led Liverpool in a dramatic comeback at Anfield, where defender Dejan Lovren scored a late goal to make it 4–3 to the Reds and 5–4 on aggregate. In the 2015–16 DFB-Pokal, for the third-straight year Dortmund made it to the competition final, but lost to Bayern Munich on penalties.
On 11 April 2017, three explosions occurred near the team’s bus on its way to a Champions League match against AS Monaco at the Signal Iduna Park. Defender Marc Bartra was injured, and taken to hospital. Dortmund went on to lose the game 2–3 to AS Monaco. Dortmund’s manager, Thomas Tuchel, blamed the loss as a result of an ignorant decision by UEFA. UEFA went on to say that the team made no objection to playing, and that the decision was made in compliance with the club and local law enforcement. In the second leg, Dortmund went on to lose 1–3, leaving the aggregate score at 3–6, and seeing them eliminated from that year’s UEFA Champions League. On 26 April, Dortmund defeated Bayern Munich 3–2 in Munich to advance to the 2017 DFB-Pokal Final, Dortmund’s fourth consecutive final and fifth in six seasons. On 27 May, Dortmund won the 2016–17 DFB-Pokal 2–1 over Eintracht Frankfurt with the winner coming from a penalty converted by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.